In many ways, my life isn't so different from other married women. I’m happy and head over heels in love with the man of dreams, who loves me and cares for me like no other. We have a home in the' burbs complete with a dog and a spunky daughter named Kalia. We live, laugh and love together just like any other family.
The only difference is, the man I love, the father of my child, my husband….is in a federal prison.
Before you jump to conclusions, no, I’m not some dumb woman with low self esteem and daddy issues looking for love in all the wrong places. On the contrary, I come from a two parent home, have a degree and a career I love. Charles and I met our freshman year in college and were pretty much inseparable from day one. After school, we moved in together and got our lives in the “real” world started. Charles’ career took off much quicker than mine when he landed a job at a financial firm and the life he provided for us was amazing—vacations around the world, gifts galore and a nice home. Because Charles worked long hours to justify the money he was bringing in it never occurred to me to ask exactly where the money was coming from in detail and since he worked in finance he handled our taxes as well.
In hindsight, maybe I should’ve been more hands on.
My world came crashing down on what should’ve been the happiest day of our lives. I was at home preparing Charles’ favorite meal and getting my sexy on in anticipation of his arrival and the big news I had to share. I was pregnant! It wasn’t planned, but we always talked about having children so I knew Charles would be over the moon. An hour past Charles’ expected arrival time, my excitement was turning to anger. Three hours past, I was straight up pissed off. I parked myself on the couch prepared to go all the way off as soon as he stepped through the door, but the next morning when I woke up in the same spot and it was apparent Charles hadn’t been home, I went from pissed off to scared. I called his phone over and over. No answer. I called friends, family and coworkers, but no one had heard from him. Just as I was getting ready to call the police, they called me. When I picked up it was Charles on the other end, he said he couldn’t talk long and couldn’t explain, but he was in jail and it was serious. He wanted me to call his parents and have them call their lawyer. I was breathless. After a few seconds of silence Charles began frantically calling my name and when I finally came out of my trance all I could say before hanging up was “Ok. I’m pregnant.”
Charles was arrested for embezzling, money laundering, assault with a deadly weapon, drug trafficking and a host of other crimes. From what I understand he was stealing money from his job and using it to fund a drug business with his friends and two coworkers. He was still in jail when I gave birth to our daughter. By the time the trial came and went, our daughter was almost 7 months old and Charles was found guilty. His sentence? 15 years in a federal prison. When the judge read his sentence a fell to my knees clutching my sleeping baby and crying uncontrollably. In the days following the sentencing family and friends encouraged me to cut my losses and move on from this situation because “clearly Charles isn’t the man he said he was.” And they were right, I didn’t know him. The Charles I knew wasn’t a thief and drug dealer, he was sweet, compassionate, thoughtful and loving. Was it all a lie?
For the first two years I visited Charles in prison only to let him see and spend time with his daughter, the trust between us was gone and he could tell by my cool response to him. But after awhile we worked our way back into each other’s hearts and I started to see the man I fell in love with again. I was able to forgive him for his enormous mistake and on the anniversary of his 4th year in prison Charles and I got married. It wasn’t the dream wedding I planned as a girl, but it was the love I always dreamed of and with our daughter by our side we officially became a family.
Naturally my relatives were not too thrilled that I decided to marry a convicted felon, but two years later they are learning to accept it. Right now I’m working on helping Charles gain an early release from prison, but in the meantime Kalia and I go to see him every chance we get. It may not be the “normal” family life, but it is filled with just as much love and hope, and that’s what’s going to see us through until Charles comes home and when he does I’ll be right by his side as I always have been and always will be.
~As told to Danielle Pointdujour